Your tenants have children, pets, and bare feet in the summertime. They care about environment-friendly landscaping, and when they find out you do, too, they will be more likely to choose your properties.
Far too many landscaping companies are careless about their impact on the environment, and beyond meeting regulations, fail to make an effort to preserve our delicate ecosystem. And, of course, this reflects back on you.
Simply put, a sustainable landscape optimizes the resources required for design and maintenance while keeping waste to a minimum. Organic options are a plus, but synthetic programs can also incorporate best practices that protect the environment. Throughout the installation, your service provider should tailor a solution that best utilizes your property’s topography, climate, and the seasons so mother nature can do her thing. But when human intervention is required, you will want a system in place that reduces waste, run-off, and excessive caretaking.
How Environment-Friendly is YOUR Landscaping Company?
In order to assess how environmentally conscious your provider is, you need to ask them. We suggest you do a deep dive with your company of choice in each of these 5 areas:
- Irrigation Systems. An efficiently operating irrigation system is a MUST for any environmentally-conscious solution. Your system should be optimized for each area of the property and synchronized with rainfall to avoid over or under-watering. Sometimes, it’s the little things that count, like making sure spray heads aren’t spraying the road, the clocks are operating correctly, and there are no major leaks. One potentially harmful oversight is failure to monitor backflow devices; making sure these devices are working properly protects potable water sources from becoming contaminated.
- Waste removal. Maintaining your landscape necessarily creates debris: grass clippings, branches, dirt, run-off etc. Your provider should have a plan for removing, composting, and recycling wherever possible. They should NOT be dumping waste in natural (or hidden) areas of your property, or leave it to pile up in streets, driveways, and in front of storm sewers. Yard waste scattered throughout the surrounding area can quickly end up in lakes and streams, clogging waterways and contaminating the water with chemicals.
- Equipment Best Practices. One of the biggest threats to the environment is careless operation – and maintenance – of landscaping equipment. Ideally, equipment should skew toward low emissions and be properly maintained to maximize efficiency: engines tuned, blades sharpened, oil changed regularly and recycled. Learning how to handle equipment also makes a difference: scheduling trucks to minimize travel time, turning engines off rather than idling them, or something as simple as not mowing grass too short. Short grass invites more weeds – and requires heavier doses of fertilizer.
- Training and Certifications. Chemicals in the landscaping industry continue to evolve; they have become more targeted, more effective, and in some cases, more potent. Crews should be highly-trained on the use of chemicals so that fertilizers and insecticides are used sparingly, are well-contained, and are disposed of properly. It?s not unusual to see a careless landscaping company indiscriminately spraying chemicals all over a lawn – unnecessarily so – and failing to post warning signs before, during, and after each application. Anyone applying chemicals should have an almost encyclopedic knowledge about where and when to apply, and how to determine the threshold for treatment.
- Organic Options. Imagine if you were moving into a new residence or place of business and you discovered that the lawn care in your new building was 100% organic. Wouldn’t you be thrilled? Not all landscaping companies have organic options, but if they do, you might want to explore them. Organic solutions have come a long way; they are quite effective, and are not all that much more expensive than synthetics. (And in the long run, they can even cost you less because the property becomes extremely healthy.) Organic solutions are good for birds, bees, and butterflies – all of the natural pollinators that make a property so inviting. Plus, on a personal level, you can feel good about doing your part to promote the health of our planet.
Once you have a clear understanding of your landscaping provider’s attitudes – and approach – toward environmentally conscious care for your property, you can feel confident that everyone involved is doing the right thing for you, your tenants, and the community at large.
But don’t stop there. Now that you know what to look for, be sure and conduct some spot checks every now and then. Even though a company may have environment-friendly core values, if they are not adequately communicating standard operating procedures to their crews, you may not be getting the type of service you expected.